A month back we landed on New York Times Paris bureau chief Steven Erlanger for condescending comments he made about Palestinians in Gaza, as if they were an alien species. Well yesterday Strobe Talbott, the head of the Brookings Institution, tweeted that Hamas is a “perfect example of NGO acting like a state,” and Erlanger responded:
Well, can call Hamas many things, i think, including an NGO, but not my first thought. Gaza is Hamastan. not NGOworld!
Hamastan, a pejorative term suggesting that Gaza is like Afghanistan under the intolerant Taliban, has a pedigree in neoconservative circles. Three examples (thanks to wikipedia):
Netanyahu, 2006: “the state of Hamastan – an offshoot of Iran – has been established before our eyes.”
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a rightwing thinktank, 2007: Iran is building Hamastan in Gaza
Dennis Ross, 2007: “The specter of ‘Hamastan'”: Gaza is being lost to the Islamists
His tweet suggests to me that Erlanger believes the neoconservative view of the Arab world. I wonder if the NYT’s constraints on reporters’ opinions are chafing at him, and if he isn’t headed for a thinktank before long, where he can give full throat to his opinions about Muslims and Palestinians…